Dr Suhrab Aslam Khan The popular upsurges witnessed in the Middle Eastern countries recently, particularly in Tunisia and then in Egypt, have demonstrated that the common multitude, without any specific organisation and leadership, are capable of disregarding the organised force of the state and its monopoly over its use. Revolutionary outcomes are not amenable to convenient predictions. Kermit Roosevelt, the US CIA Chief in Tehran during the early 50s, and a close kin of a former US President Theodore Roosevelt, in his autobiographical account, Countercoup, narrated an incident that is of relevance to the present course of history in the Middle East (ME). With the start of public protests in favour of Mossadaq in 1953, the Shah of Iran invited Roosevelt to his palace for consultation. On his arrival, the CIA Chief found the Shah ready with his packed suitcases to flee from Iran in good Islamic tradition. On the contrary, the unpopular Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak has breached this tradition and decided to stay on his countrys soil during and so far after the public turmoil and resignation, to his credit, notwithstanding many other substantive castigations he has amassed against himself during his rule. A senior Egyptian journalist of renown, who has famously been associated with the leading daily Al-Ahram in Cairo, Mohammad Heikal has closely observed the eras of the three preceding Egyptian Presidents from Nasser through Sadat to Mubarak. In a recent interview, subsequent to the coup in Egypt, which appeared in The Independent, Heikal described the popular uprising as a great historical tragedy. It is perhaps due to the fact, the nature of the post-revolutionary Egypt is not yet clearly visible, and the people are bewildered about what they have achieved. Aside from the eminent journalists legitimate concerns, in the historical context of the revolution, it is an acknowledged fact that even if a revolutionary phase does not realise its primary objective - in the instance of the ongoing Egyptian revolutionary upsurge, it is the securing of civil liberties and popular empowerment - the revolution does not remain without leaving its impact upon the future. The least a revolutionary upheaval does, it enhances political consciousness - that is, awareness about the popular rights and concern regarding their defence - in the involved society. For instance, the historical 1848 revolutions in Europe, involving multiple nations, though failed to secure their objectives, paved the way for a rapid political evolution subsequently. The popular upsurges witnessed in the Middle Eastern countries recently, particularly in Tunisia and then in Egypt, have demonstrated that the common multitude, without any specific organisation and leadership, are capable of disregarding the organised force of the state and its monopoly over its use. This demonstration is the vital element that would serve to revolutionise the ME. And the success of the present revolutionary fervour in that region can also become the political combustible to galvanise other societies confronting the distressing problems of the corruption of the state apparatus, worsening economic difficulties, rising unemployment and diminution of hope in future. The engaging issue remains, as also pointed out by Found Ajmi of the John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, whether Tunisia will continue as a revolutionary model - or for that matter Egypt - for the Arab states ruled by discredited regimes. It is for the reason, the upsurge has been spontaneous, triggered by the attempt at self-immolation of a small-business vendor facing economic difficulties in Tunis; and soon after public protests erupted in the streets in Cairo, apparently credited to the techniques available through the new-age information technology, namely, Twitter and Facebook. The protest movements lacked well-defined organisation, leadership and planned objectives. The sudden realisation of popular demands for the change of long-established, albeit incompetent, political regimes will either lead to an improvised interim government as in Tunisia, or to a military takeover as in Egypt. The former becomes a precursor of political instability that may degenerate into chaos, whereas the latter may become a harbinger of the usurpation of genuine representative political rule. Hence, the primary revolutionary objective in the Arab states experiencing the momentous popular upsurge should be the demand for fair, free and credible general elections under an autonomous election commission, within a limited timeframe of a few months. The representative parliament afterwards should frame a constitution with a proportionate political rule, that is, various major political factions should be allowed the proportionate participation and holding of portfolios in the future political regime. This measure of proportionate political rule, once acquires a wide-based consensus among various political parties and groups, will foster internal political cohesion at an early stage of the revolutionary struggle. All other political matters and policies should be entrusted to the future representative political dispensation. Given the outlined primary revolutionary objective, the revolutionary surge coursing through the Arab states is likely to culminate into a successful and lasting outcome. A critical understanding of the axiomatic definition of democracy, attributed to former US President Abraham Lincoln - namely, government of the people, by the people, for the people - also discloses the reason for the failure of democracy to receive support due to it from the US, especially in the developing Muslim countries. To the US and its close allies, democracy in these states is acceptable to the extent it conforms to the strategic and economic US objectives. The difficulty surfaces as these objectives often come in contradiction with the essential part of democracy, as indicated in the noted definition as well. Because the underlying function of the democratic setting is its basic orientation towards the interest - to be characterised as the well being and welfare - of the people. This content is so fundamental to the idea of democracy, so simply and laconically portrayed in the part of its definition under present focus, that is, governance for the people, that some leading political scientists even proceed so far as to consider this salient feature to embody democracy - or to be its essence, rather its raison d'tre or justification. In alternative words, the absence of this vital feature serves to exclude meaningful democracy, irrespective of its other component features. And accordingly the presence of this determining characteristic of democracy in a benevolent constitutional monarchy allows it to be deemed as people-oriented or democratic. In this perspective, it is merely derivative that the US strategic and economic objectives come in conflict with a political dispensation that primarily subscribes to public interest. In antithetical terms, such US vested interests find their satisfaction in a corrupt democratic setup, whereby the governmental policies are more tuned to serving the ulterior motives rather than national interests. In an autocratic dispensation, the autocrat for the sake of political legitimacy, international acceptance and security for personal political power falls subservient to the imperial or neo-colonial designs against ones own nation. Instances of this political occurrence are numerous, including the former President Musharrafs regime, Hosni Mubarak until recently, Suharto in Indonesia during the previous era, and Shah of Iran in the memorable past. Against this background, it is easy to apprehend the pronounced projection of fundamental and radical Islam as a spectre to secular political dimension in order to curtail or curb (secular) nationalism in those exploited societies. Under these circumstances, the secular interests are made to reorient themselves towards neo-colonial centres, away from strident nationalist inclinations. If the present political dispensation in Pakistan is an instance of the former, or of the diminished subscription to national interest, then Mubaraks regime in Egypt until recently was an instance of the latter, or its orientation to neo-colonial centres and away from nationalism. In order to cope with this acute slant of historical traditions against them - that is, imperial and neo-colonial exploitation of ME during the previous two centuries in history - the Arab societies undergoing revolutionary upsurge are to draw rewarding lessons from the preceding outcomes in Tunisia as well as Egypt. The revolutionary demand for the holding of credible representative election is to be pressed into realisation, without allowing the political situation a detour through any intermediate structure of rule - e.g. interim government in Tunisia and military takeover in Egypt - or the framing of a new constitution prior to the coming into existence of the revolutionary representative parliament. For any intermediary stage on the way to representative revolutionary rule, with the exception of general elections, poses an evident hazard to the revolution. A ready closure of the popular national ranks is achievable through the consensus on proportionate representative rule. With this in mind, the dismissal of the Mubarak regime, with its replacement by a military rule, instead of a credible representative set up in Egypt, may be a reflection of popular passions lacking their tempering with revolutionary calculations. For such calculations are indispensable, as the revolutionary tide has allowed both the protagonist and antagonist forces to take to flood in an endeavour to reach their respective political shores. The writer is the chairman of the Pakistan Ideological Forum. Email: suhrabaslam@hotmail.com